Consumer Alert

from the Federal Communications Commission

When Your Wireline Telephone Company Files for Bankruptcy

The fact that a wireline telephone company has filed for bankruptcy protection does not mean it will stop providing service.  Many companies continue to provide uninterrupted service to their customers while in bankruptcy.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the following regulations in place to protect consumers if a company wants to discontinue or reduce telephone services:

  • FCC rules prohibit abrupt cut-off of subscribers' telephone service.

  • FCC rules require a telephone company to provide written notice to affected customers of any planned discontinuance of service.  The notice must specifically state the customer has the right to file comments with the FCC.

  • After notifying affected customers, a telephone company must file for permission from the FCC to cut off service.  Once the FCC receives this request, the FCC releases a notice to the public seeking comment on the request.

  • The telephone company is not permitted to terminate service until a minimum of 31 days after the FCC releases its notice informing the public about the proposed action.  The FCC can extend the termination date.

  • For international telephone service, customers must receive 60 days' notice before their service is terminated.  The telephone company must also file a copy of the notice with the FCC on or after the date affected customers are notified.

The FCC normally authorizes a telephone company's request to discontinue or reduce services unless the company's customers are unable to receive similar services or a reasonable substitute from another telephone company.

Sometimes during bankruptcy proceedings, a telephone company may sell or transfer its customer base to another company.  If that happens, consumers are protected by FCC regulations as follows:

  • The new telephone company must provide the customer 30 days advance notice of the transfer, including information about its rates and services.

  • The customer may accept the new company or choose another company (but a customer who has signed a long-term contract may have to pay a penalty to choose another company; the customer should check the contract.)

  • A customer who is transfered to a new company without adequate notice is entitled to relief under the FCC's slamming rules.  (For more information about slamming, visit the FCC's web site, www.fcc.gov/slamming.)

State law may offer additional protections.  Consumers should contact their state public utility control for additional information, www.state.ct.us/dpuc.

If Your Wireline Carrier Seeks to Discontinue Service

If you are a customer of a wireline telephone company that has sought FCC approval to discontinue or reduce telephone service and you have objections to the proposed action, you may file your objections and/or comments with the FCC.  The FCC will consider your comments and/or objections when evaluating your telephone company's request to discontinue or reduce its services.